Seeing Themselves: Cultural Identity and New Zealand Produced Children's Television
The New Zealand television environment is a complex one, and its ability to instil a sense of 'cultural identity' for New Zealand viewers has been regularly debated. Local children's programming is an area that can sometimes be overlooked in these important discussions. Children's programming in New Zealand is almost entirely publicly funded and is therefore legislatively tied to 'reflecting' cultural identity for a New Zealand child audience. This raises questions about how cultural identity is defined and understood within this industry, especially considering the inherent differences between a child audience and adult programme makers. These questions are engaged with through an examination of how cultural identity is discussed by funders, producers and audiences of four locally produced television brands: What Now?, Sticky TV, Studio 2 and Pukana. This thesis considers cultural identity to be a social construction that is both fluid and, in a New Zealand context, tied to certain expectations of 'New Zealandness'. This fluidity is examined through a discourse analysis of how funders, producers and audiences talk about each programme as well as cultural identity, in order to examine similarities and differences in how each group conceptualises this important funding concept. The argument is formed that cultural identity is understood in different terms: for children cultural identity is foremost about belonging to and 'seeing themselves' in a larger community of New Zealand children, while programme makers are concerned with the problematic notion of 'reflecting' "kids' worlds".